You may have noticed that in a couple of my early reviews I’ve mentioned the concept of my “Past Self”. It’s not something we think about very often, but right now we are a very different person than we used to be even a year ago. I was put onto this line of thought by an episode of How I Met Your Mother (which is hilarious, by the way), in which two of the characters continually put off a job for their “Future Selves” to deal with. Of course a time comes where the job needs to be completed, so they are left doing the work their “Past Selves” left for them.
It’s worth some thought. Every action you take will influence your future self in some way. If we consider that self as a separate individual, as they very much are, will they thank you for what you have done to them? It’s a very one-sided relationship, really, since you can’t reprimand or thank your past self for what they’ve done. And even if you could, would it be fair? Back when you made the decision in question you didn’t have the information you do now. I know I’ve looked back and thought that some of the things I’ve done have been stupid, but they do say that hindsight is 20/20.
Armed with this new-found knowledge that everything you do will affect your future self, what are you going to do about it? These days I actively try to do things for my future self. Going away for a few weeks? Fresh sheets on the bed for when I come back. They’re small things, but they mean that I get on with past self pretty well because he takes care of me. It’s a little galling that there’s so little I can do for him though, it being limited to respecting decisions he has made in the past and the work he has done.
But…what if your past self was someone you really didn’t know at all? Could you trust them? Minori’s visual novel “Ef – A Fairy Tale of the Two” features Chihiro Shindou who, very much like in the movie “50 First Dates”, cannot store new memories and has to rely on whatever the her of yesterday writes down in her notebook in order to know what’s going on. Imagine waking up in the morning without a care in the world, then finding out that you’re actually living years in the future from your last memory. Yesterday you were 18, fresh out of high school, and now you’re married with two kids; it’s an exaggeration, though an entirely plausible one. There’s a little more to it in Chihiro’s case, but I’m sure we can all appreciate how horrible it would be to have to confront such a situation (and then do it again each and every day for the rest of your life).
I know the title of the article is “The Future Self”, but this new line of thought suggests that the past self is more important than I first implied. What if you couldn’t escape your past self? You would have extreme trouble holding down all but the simplest job (unless your condition began after you have received training), any sort of romance would be awkward at best (though my previous examples both give the idea that it’s possible) and perhaps the most distressing of all deficits would be the inability to grow as a person. You would have to start from the same point each and every morning, limiting any sort of learning you might achieve. There’s a rather morbid silver lining to all this though: you would never have to suffer through more than one day of this in your entire life, because you wouldn’t remember all the days that had already gone by.
So how about you all: What do you do for your Future Self? Do you get on well with your Past Self?